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A Website and Weblog about Topics and Issues discussed in the book
Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold

Auto Play Videos on Facebook
April 17th, 2014

Ever since Facebook introduced video and video ads auto play has been the plan of attack. But Facebook has also provided the tools to prevent that all from occurring. It will need to be done on every device you use to access Facebook because it’s a browser-based setting not an account setting. Here is a tutorial for a quick and easy way to stop videos on Facebook from auto playing.

Technological change and the future
April 17th, 2014

According to the latest research findinds of PEW Research a majority of Americans envision a future made better by advancements in technology.

The public is evenly split on whether computers will soon match humans when it comes to creating music, novels, paintings, or other important works of art: 51% think that this will happen in the next 50 years, while 45% think that it will not. College graduates and those with high incomes are comparatively unlikely to expect that computers will advance to this level of development.

Multi-Screen Engagement
April 17th, 2014

Studies show that a television is no longer the only place that consumers are getting their entertainment. Computers, tablets, and smartphones are all able to air favorite shows—and the ads that go with them. This combination of multiple screens into the consumer experience is transforming how people develop devotion to certain brands, and how they stay engaged with content and brands simultaneously across different devices.

According to Socialmedia today an interesting webinar took place on Multi-Screen Engagement stating that ‘Marketers must meet consumers on whichever screen they’re viewing. Not only that, it needs to be a picture-perfect experience. Otherwise, the connection with the consumer will be lost. Loyalty will go to the brands that transcend across all platforms

See here the focus of what was discussed by the panel

Designing your creative with engagement and interactivity in mind.
Understanding the different types of multi-screeners.
Integrating your mobile and online digital strategy.
Leveraging the variety of social platforms.

Watch out PayPal for Facebook planning a Money Transfer Business
April 16th, 2014

Forbes contributor Leo King reports in Forbes that the web-based money transfer market could be in for a large shakeup after it emerged. Facebook is planning a money transfer business in Europe, expanding its existing options beyond the U.S.

[Also check slideshow the Evolution of Facebook]

Expert opinions are split as to whether a foray into the market by Facebook would cause a competitive danger for existing online money transfer providers such as eBay’s PayPal division, Western Union WU +0.95% and Moneygram, or whether the social network would need a lot of time to establish a successful, trustworthy operation.

The social network, which already has money services licences in most US states but has not yet launched a money transfer business, is close to gaining regulatory approval in Ireland, its European base, for an online payment service – according to a report in the Financial Times.

Such a business would draw on Facebook’s extensive user base and existing mobile reach, but analysts are warning that success could depend on establishing a new level of user trust. It would also partner with existing technology startups to handle the transfers. The company has not commented on any potential launch, and the timing remains unclear.

WSJ: In a Digital World, Lego Sticks to Its Bricks
April 16th, 2014

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Lego CEO Mr. Knudstorp spoke about the future of plastic bricks in a digital world. JENS HANSEGARD reports on how the Toy Maker’s Focus for Growth Is Now Directed Toward New Markets

WSJ: Another competitor for children’s attention is the boom in digital play. How does Lego compete with iPads and other digital devices?

Mr. Knudstorp: Lego videogames are some of the biggest titles in children’s videogames. [But] we have no desire to leave our physical brick. We’re looking for exciting ways to encircle the physical building experience, and online gaming, videogames, console games are all part of that. I don’t see it as a contradiction.

Back in town
April 16th, 2014

Much to my surprise I noticed that co-blogger Charles Cameron recently started posting again on Smartmobs. The last time I contributed was in 2012 and without a valid reason I stopped. Being a fan of Howards books Smartmobs and Net Smarts it might be useful to continue the blogging in the context of Howard’s work. Therefore I picked up both books today and let them inspire me for a renewed blogging effort.

And via MIT’s Shelf Awareness on Facebook I found that there are
8 Stages of becoming obsessed with a (new) book. Here you can read more on those stages.

I like this quote of Daniel H. Pink, author of ‘Drive and a whole new mind’ on the cover of Net Smart

‘Net Smart is a lifeboat for people who want to participate in new technologies without drowning in the flood’

In what obsessed state with Howard’s book on Thriving Online are you? I personally reached the never-ending stage and learnt that This is basically the time after you pass the jealousy stage, but before you read the book again. Because your love and obsession for a book never, ever ends. It just grows and changes with time.

Smart Mobs & Cuba
April 3rd, 2014

According to an Associated Press piece early this morning titled US secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest, the US Government has quietly been prepping Cubans for “smart mobs” and possible political change:

Documents show the U.S. government planned to build a subscriber base through “non-controversial content”: news messages on soccer, music, and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize “smart mobs” — mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice that might trigger a Cuban Spring, or, as one USAID document put it, “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”

At its peak, the project drew in more than 40,000 Cubans to share news and exchange opinions. But its subscribers were never aware it was created by the U.S. government, or that American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes.

“There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement,” according to a 2010 memo from Mobile Accord, one of the project’s contractors. “This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the Mission.”

It’s not as though Howard hadn’t already identified the possibility — on page 158 of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, he told us about the January 20 2001 fall of the Joseph Estrada regime in the Phillipines as a result of texting and smart mobs:

Tens of thousands of Filipinos converged on Epifanio de los Santas Avenue, known as “Edsa,” within an hour of the first text message volleys:  ‘Go 2EDSA, Wear blck.’  Over four days, more than a million citizens showed up, mostly dressed in black.  Estrada fell.  The legend of “Generation Txt” was born.

Howard published those words in 2002: apparently USAID got the message.

Howard has moved on since then.  He’ll be teaching Toward a Literacy of Cooperation: Introduction to Cooperation Theory from April 30 – June 5, 2014 online — and last I heard, there were still some seats available. Click the link to see the course outline — its now 2014, and Howard’s as far ahead of the curve as ever.


Social media and religion: from Benedict via Barney to Vajrayana
January 25th, 2013

[ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]


Two stories from opposite ends (arguably) of the spectrum:

First, how social media can subvert respect for the “virtue police” in Saudi Arabia (h/t Sana Issa):

A lady in Dammam, the hub of the oil industry on the kingdom’s Gulf coast, tweeted a complaint from a local shopping mall. Agents of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), she said, were causing an unpleasant scene. The government-salaried vigilantes, a bearded auxiliary police force familiarly known to Saudis as the Hayaa, had marched officiously into an educational exhibit featuring plaster models of dinosaurs, turned off the lights and ordered everyone out, frightening children and alarming their parents.

[ ... ]

Within minutes of the incident, a freshly minted Arabic Twitter hashtag, #Dammam-Hayaa-Closes-Dinosaur-Show, was generating scores of theories about their motives.

  • Perhaps, suggested one, there was a danger that citizens might start worshipping dinosaur statues instead of God.
  • Maybe it was just a temporary measure, said another, until the Hayaa can separate male and female dinosaurs and put them in separate rooms.
  • Surely, declared a third, one of the lady dinosaurs had been caught in public without a male guardian.
  • A fourth announced an all-points police alert for Barney the Dinosaur, while
  • another suggested it was too early to judge until it was clear what the dinosaurs were wearing.

  • There’s more, but I’m too prudish to post it…


    Second, and more seriously – but wittily too, hey! — here’s how social media can impact the egos of “so-called” Vajrayana [ Buddhist tantra ] practitioners, together with sage advice from a noted film-maker Rinpoche, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse:

  • Don’t post tantric images: If you think posting provocative tantric images (such as images of deities with multiple arms, animal heads, those in union, and wrathful deities) makes you important, you probably don’t understand their meaning
  • Don’t post mantras and seed syllables: If you think mantras and seed syllables should be posted on Facebook as mood enhancement and self-improvement aids, a makeover or haircut might do a better job.
  • Don’t talk about your empowerments: If you think images from your weekend Vajrayana empowerment are worthy of being posted up next to photos of your cat on Facebook, you should send your cat to Nepal for enthronement.

  • Vajrayana Buddhism? Here’s a quick overview:

    In contrast to the approaches of conventional religion, tantra does not attempt to soothe the turmoil of existence with consoling promises of heaven and salvation. The tantric practitioner chooses to confront the bewildering and chaotic forces of fear, aggression, desire, and pride, and to work with them in such a way that they are channeled into creative expression, loving relationships, and wisely engaged forms of life.


    And then there’s Benedict XVI, tweeting as @pontifex. His 1,458,557-and-counting followers have thus far received 27 tweets from the Holy Father since December 12th — no “Friday Follows” and no “Retweets”.

    He does, however, follow himself in 8 languages besides English.

    A platform for online social activism and digital citizenship in schools
    October 26th, 2012

    A Platform for Good initiative builds on Change.org in order to integrate and promote youth social activism in the classroom. The younger generation definitely has a voice, as proven among others by the Chilean Penguin Revolution, and a right to express their beliefs and personal preferences concerning the direction toward which different things go in the world. Change.org is a wider platform where people and groups of all ages can start petitions on issues they want to solve by gathering and harnessing social support. If enough support is obtained, the battle for the respective change is won.

    The Platform for good makes use of these online collaborative resources with the goal of cultivating among students a sense of digital citizenship and involvement in social activism by initiating social movements for change at the level of local and national communities. On the website, links are given for successful projects like the First Woman Moderator of the Presidential Debates in 20 years, the Lorax Petition Project (with an environmental message built around the movie Lorax), and the Crayola Recycle Markers Project. Such examples educate and inspire students to believe in their power to make their country and the world a better place to live in.

    The Cell Phone Cripples Malaria in Kenya
    October 12th, 2012

    Source. The mobile communication technology proves once again its usefulness in the realm of medical science. A study conducted by Harvard researchers and published in the journal Science used text messages sent in June 2008 and June 2009 from the mobile phones of 15 million Kenyan subscribers to track the origins and spreading patterns of malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that kills around 1 million people annually, 89% of these deaths occurring in Africa.

    The cell phone technology helped with identifying and mapping a major mechanism of epidemic transmission by travel of humans from Lake Victoria, situated in the western edge of the country to Nairobi, its more central capital, thus revealing that the role of human carriers in the spreading of the parasite exceeds by far the flying limits of mosquitoes. This monitoring of human movement on a much larger scale by means of the unrelated mobile technology helps with gauging and understanding better the risk of infection.

    And this is not the only benefit. Caroline Buckee, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and the author of the Science study said that the same cell phone technology that identifies malaria hot spots could improve the approaches for controlling the disease by warning travelers via text messages to avoid such risky areas. In addition to this, mobile phones could also be used to target and use resources more efficiently in the fight against malaria.

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